Are you experiencing joint pain or stiffness daily? Did you recently injure yourself on the basketball court or football field? Do you encounter neck or back pain from sitting at your work desk all day? If you answered “yes!” to any of these conditions, visiting an orthopedic doctor may be in order.
What is an orthopedic doctor?
An orthopedic doctor offers specialized care and treats conditions and injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system – bones, soft tissue, muscle, tendons, and ligaments (Tucker). An orthopedic doctor evaluates, diagnoses, and treats musculoskeletal structures when injured or affected by illness. Orthopedic doctors also help prevent musculoskeletal injuries and conditions from developing in the future. Family physicians may refer patients to orthopedic doctors for expert, specialized treatment beyond the scope of generalized primary care.
What conditions do orthopedic doctors treat?
Conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, and osteoporosis can cause debilitating pain and dysfunction. Luckily, orthopedic specialists are here to help! Orthopedic doctors see patients with various conditions that affect the muscles, nerves, bones, joints, and connective tissues.
Five common conditions orthopedic doctors treat are:
- Arthritis – including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Bursitis – painful swelling around joints
- Osteoporosis – brittle and fragile bones
- Traumatic Injuries – sports-related injuries and accidents
- Pain – such as knee, hip, and joint pain
(“Common Joint Conditions Symptoms & Causes”)
Orthopedic conditions are often chronic, meaning they tend to last months or even years, and they are often progressive, which means they will get worse over time – especially without treatment. Some of these conditions are related to age, some are genetic, and some are caused by overuse of the affected area.
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for most chronic orthopedic conditions. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, surgery, medication, in-office procedures, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), or a combination of those options (“Common Reasons for Visiting an Orthopedic Doctor”). Your treatment plan will depend on factors like the severity of your condition and the degree to which it affects your activities.
Should I see an orthopedic doctor?
You may consider seeing an orthopedic physician if you:
- Notice a decrease in your range of motion
- You can’t walk without pain
- You have hip or knee pain that worsens upon standing
- Your daily life is hindered by joint stiffness or discomfort
- You have chronic pain that lasts more than three months
- You have a soft tissue injury that has not improved after several days
Persistent pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical assistance from orthopedic specialists. If you have constant pain that lasts several months or does not improve with home treatment, we recommend making an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.
The orthopedic surgeons at Great Lakes Orthopaedics perform more than 1,000 surgeries annually and can diagnose and treat any musculoskeletal condition you may be experiencing. Call (734) 422-8400 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online.
“Common Joint Conditions Symptoms & Causes.” Dignity Health, https://www.dignityhealth.org/conditions-and-treatments/orthopedics/common-joint-injuries-and-conditions. Accessed 24 March 2023.
“Common Reasons for Visiting an Orthopedic Doctor.” Beaumont Health, 25 April 2019, https://www.beaumont.org/health-wellness/blogs/common-reasons-for-visiting-an-orthopedic-doctor. Accessed 24 March 2023.
Tucker, Bradley. “Orthopedic Surgeons: 7 Things You Need to Know.” Penn Medicine, 4 December 2019, https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/musculoskeletal-and-rheumatology/2019/december/ortho-surgeons-7-things-to-know. Accessed 24 March 2023.